`If there was ever a time for corporate America to wake up to the systemic racism that infects our society and company culture, that time is now.’
It’s difficult to find words that feel appropriate and meaningful and new to add to the conversation that has exploded in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. I want to say something that will inspire not just my people, but all people—I feel now more than ever the profound need for unity.
But where can I possibly begin? The weaponization tools used to keep black people “in our place” that not only belittle, shame, and doubt us, but literally keep us down and strip us of life has shaken my faith in humanity. To live in a time of COVID-19 and witness the systematic racism again and again—of which George Floyd is another member of an ever-growing list—has tipped the scales of fragility. I’ve tried to watch the footage, my heart dropping into my stomach and tears streaming down my face. I think of my own children, of all the black children in America today who so easily could be the next victim. I think of Emmit Tills, Rodney King, Eric Bell, Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and the countless others murdered. I am both thankful for the smartphones that capture injustice and also curse the heart-wrenching, eye-opening footage that tears us apart again and again. This footage still more often than not, leads to cop acquittal, sometimes the loss of job(s), or maybe the state paying out lawsuit money to families, but it isn’t enough! No amount of money can ever be enough! If there was ever any doubt, the current climate in the United States has shown beyond a reasonable doubt just how bad race relations are in this country.
And while I applaud the many corporations that have come forward in solidarity, condemning systemic racism, many of these same companies still fail to employ black people at the c-suite level. And, use ‘not being able to find enough black talent’ as a crutch to justify the lack of black and brown people at these levels. Black representation matters! Let me say it again: Black representation as leaders matter at U.S. corporations! In fact, according to a CNN Business article titled After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal by Jeanne Shadi, “There’s a growing awareness of the need for diversity at all levels of the workplace… Yet numerous studies show the number of black professionals on boards and in C-suite roles range from not great to dismal.” This article speaks of the culture of promotion that excludes black employees from the various networks white professionals use to vet tomorrow’s future CEOs. And, although there seems to be a big percentage of black professionals at the Chief Human Resources officer (13%) and Chief Administration Executive (43%) positions levels that’s not the track to CEO. This is all very telling.
The coronavirus pandemic and the killing of our men has really placed a huge spotlight on the levels of social and economic disparities as it affects black people. As many U.S. corporations have become vocal and, mourn publicly with us about repeated murders of black men by the cops, these same companies have rolled back their D&I initiatives, like it’s an elective course rather than a mandatory one! These corporations have laid off chief diversity officers and diversity specialists like they were temporary roles. Talk is cheap. These actions show me that despite what these corporations say, there seems to be little if any, level of seriousness whatsoever when recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and working towards better inclusion of black people into their workspaces.
I implore corporations more than ever to eradicate all areas of institutional racism, bias/prejudice, and rebuild inclusive workplaces that allow black people to truly thrive!
Now more than ever black people should be at the forefront of hiring plans.
Now is the time to roll out firm-wide diversity plans and actions that exclude ‘cultural fit.’
Now is the time to ensure that hiring managers aren’t flexing their privilege and treating black people as ‘less than’.
Stop talking, and start doing. #HireBlack #BlackLeaderRepresentationMatters #BlackBrilliance
We are better together!
I AM someone who sees incredible potential in places most people don’t think to look. As an owner of a diversity staffing boutique, my team and I walk alongside our Clients in creating professional environments that are truly for ALL. I believe in our interconnectedness as a human race and strive every day to use my gifts to empower the workplace’s invisible and powerless. I rarely bet on certainty and always root for the underdog because, after all, those are the best stories to tell.
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